The usual line-up tool isn’t working, so let’s make do with the official team Tweets
I would have been happy with a split of these four games in Chicago, but after Arizona took the first pair, that would now seem a disappointment. We can split the remaining two contest, and still take three out of four, which would be excellent. A win today, and we could even leapfrog back above the Dodgers into first place in the NL West, if they lose to the Phillies. The problem is Robbie Ray: after a good start on his return from the DL, the four which followed have been poor. Zero quality starts in those, to go with an ERA of 7.65 and seven home-runs in only 20 innings.
That home-run rate is likely the main problem. His xFIP (fielding independent ERA, adjusted to a “normal” home-run rate) for the month of July is more than three runs lower, at 4.45, and Ray has still been racking up the strikeouts, with 24 over those 20 IP. He hasn’t had any luck with balls in play either, his BABIP being .359. But it’s hard to argue Ray has not struggled, especially against right-handers. They have an OPS against Robbie this season of more than .900, with their triple-slash against him this year .280/.376/.525. Which explains the somewhat strange look of the Cubs line-up today, as they stack it with every right-hander they can find. They’re 17-7 against left-handed starters, so have done well.
It doesn’t help that we are going up against an All-Star in Jon Lester, who has a 12-3 record to go with his 3.14 ERA. And that figure ballooned by more than half a run after his last outing, when the Cardinals torched him for eight runs in three innings. Lester said he had mechanical issues, so hopefully those will carry over here. Or maybe we should call St. Louis and get some tips? However, the Cubs have lost only four of Lester’s twenty starts this year - it won’t be easy. Their bullpen is stretched, and the D-backs have done a good job of running up the starters’ pitch counts this series; doing so again and getting to that thin relief corps as soon as possible may be Arizona’s best option today.